There seems to be a strong interest in t-shirt quilts these days and everyone seems to have a stash of favourite t-shirts chronicling their childhood, depicting a hobby or special interest. As time goes on, we all seem to have a drawerful of old t-shirts we can’t seem to part with or t-shirts we have been commissioned with to make a quilt for someone. At the store we have seen competitive runners gather all the t-shirts from all the races they’ve competed in, or t-shirts collected in a favourite theme (like Fido Dido character on t-shirts from the 1980’s).
Whatever your collection of special shirts is comprised of or the shopping bags you’ve been given to create a t-shirt quilt, how do you begin?
Well step one is to make sure the t-shirts are laundered and folded flat. The second step is to cut off the sleeves, cuffs and collars and get focused on the graphics you want to work with and set into blocks for your quilt. Consider incorporating the back of the t-shirts too that have significant wording or a crest.
Step three, the most transformative step, is to “stabilize” the wrong side of the t-shirts. Keeping the t-shirt piece larger than the block you think you will create is the key. (eg. cut t-shirt 16″ or so and resize it later to 12″ or whatever size you decide on) T-shirt fabric is, by nature, stretchy and without a lot of substance on its own if you want to make quilt blocks. We like to recommend “Presto Interfacing” to stabilize the back of all your t-shirts going into a quilt. Presto Interfacing is a 100% cotton pre-shrunk 22″ wide single-sided fusible interfacing available in white. For $6.98 per metre, this product is not going to add a lot of bulk to the t-shirts but will stabilize the t-shirt and transform the stretchy knit into a format you can square up or cut to size for blocks.
So fusing Presto Sheer onto the back of the t-shirt fabric before you sew you blocks together will make the t-shirts a breeze to sew with. Presto Sheer comes off the bolt here at Hamels by the metre and fusing a piece of this to the back of your t-shirts with a medium hot iron is going to set you on your way to a wonderful finish. Take your time pressing on the presto sheer interfacing to insure that the glue adhesive melts onto the back of the t-shirt. I found that cutting it down to block size after stabilizing it with Presto Sheer worked well. Once the t-shirts are “stabilized” you can proceed to laying out your blocks in whatever arrangement you decide.